United States District Court, D. Connecticut
HAILEE R. DeSOUZA, Plaintiff,
EDWARD TAIMAN, Defendant.
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
Hailee DeSouza, pro se, sues Defendant Edward
Taiman, Mr. DeSouza's former attorney, based on
allegations arising from a state court eviction action in
which Mr. Taiman represented Mr. DeSouza against a landlord
seeking to evict him. In his seven-count First Amended
Complaint (“Compl.”), Mr. DeSouza alleges that,
motivated by racial animus, Mr. Taiman conspired with the
landlord's counsel and court officials to violate Mr.
DeSouza's constitutional and statutory rights. (ECF No.
35.) Specifically, Mr. DeSouza's First Amended Complaint
alleges (i) interfering, coercing or intimidating Mr. DeSouza
regarding his housing rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
3617 (count one), (ii) violations of Mr. DeSouza's First,
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (count two), (iii) conspiring to
interfere with Mr. DeSouza's civil rights in violation of
42 U.S.C. § 1985(2) and (3) (count three), (iv) denying
Mr. DeSouza equal protection under the law in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1981 (count four), (v) interfering with Mr.
DeSouza's rights under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 3631 et. seq. (count five), (vi) conspiring to violate
Mr. DeSouza's constitutional rights under 18 U.S.C.
§ 241 (count six), and (vii) depriving Mr. DeSouza of
constitutional rights under color of law in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 242 (count seven).
Taiman moves to dismiss Mr. DeSouza's complaint under
Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Mr.
Taiman's motion to dismiss all counts because Mr. DeSouza
fails to allege facts that plead federal claims.
DeSouza is a resident of Park West Apartments located in
Vernon, Connecticut. (Compl. at 2.) Mr. DeSouza retained Mr.
Taiman as his attorney when Mr. DeSouza's landlord sued
him for eviction on June 14, 2014. (Id. at 3.) Mr.
DeSouza alleges that shortly after being retained, Mr. Taiman
suggested that Mr. DeSouza “move out” of his
apartment at the end of his lease. (Id. at 3.) Mr.
DeSouza alleges that he instructed Mr. Taiman that he had
done nothing wrong and that he wanted to take his case to
trial against his landlord. (Id.) On August 29,
2014, during a scheduled court date at the Rockville-Vernon
Courthouse, Mr. Taiman allegedly lied to him as part of a
conspiracy with the landlord's counsel and a
representative of the court to coerce Mr. DeSouza into
signing a settlement agreement in his eviction case.
(Id. at 3-7.) According to Mr. DeSouza, the
conspiracy aimed to prevent him from appearing in front of a
superior court judge, to intimidate him, and to hold him in
the court employee's office until he agreed to a
settlement. (Id. at 7.)
on September 12, 2014, the agreement he was coerced into
signing was used against him in court and, subsequently, Mr.
Taiman allowed him to be called as a witness for Mr.
DeSouza's landlord against his wishes. (Id. at
9.) Mr. DeSouza also alleges that Mr. Taiman's failure to
demand a trial for Mr. DeSouza during the August 29 court
appearance caused Mr. DeSouza to be terminated from his
construction job because of “constant unlawful,
nuisance harassment calls to Mr. DeSouza['s]
employer.” (Id. at 11.)
result of Mr. Taiman's actions, Mr. DeSouza claims he
suffered damages, including extreme stress, anxiety, loss of
sleep, stress disorder, emotional pain and distress,
heartburn, ulcers, mental anguish, elevated heart rate,
irregular heartbeat, and an increased need for treatment and
medication. (Id. at 12.)
DeSouza filed his initial complaint on March 25, 2016 (ECF
No. 1), and Mr. Taiman moved to dismiss on May 31, 2016. (ECF
No. 17.) I granted Mr. Taiman's motion to dismiss on Rule
8 grounds, finding that the complaint did not contain
“a short and plain statement of the grounds for the
court's jurisdiction, ” or “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” (ECF No. 30)(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1),
(a)(2)). I granted Mr. DeSouza leave to file an amended
complaint addressing deficiencies in his original complaint.
(ECF No. 30.)
DeSouza filed his First Amended Complaint on March 23,
and Mr. Taiman filed the current motion to dismiss for lack
of jurisdiction on April 19, 2017. (ECF No. 36.)
“case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court
lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate
it.” Nike, Inc. v. Already, LLC, 663 F.3d 89,
94 (2d Cir. 2011). The party “asserting subject matter
jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a preponderance of
the evidence that it exists.” Luckkett v.
Bure, 290 F.3d 493, 497 (2d. Cir. 2002). “In
resolving a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), a district court . . . may
refer to evidence outside the pleadings.” Makarova
v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). The
court construes the complaint liberally and accepts all
factual allegations as true. Ford v. D.C. 37 Union Local
1549, 579 F.3d 187, 188 (2d Cir. 2009).